November 4, 2019

With wildfires raging across California and a summer of blazes in the arctic, Amazon, and Indonesian rainforests, wildfire is becoming a global issue on a scale never seen in recorded history. That is also true in Oregon, despite the relatively cool and wet summer experienced in NW Oregon and Washington that prevented major wildfires from flaring up in the region. But, with increasingly dry conditions and many people living in the so-called "urban-wildland interface," where houses and forests come into contact, the time is always good for raising awareness.  

In September, a diverse group of people from several organizations gathered together to increase our communities' safety. 

Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and their Search and Rescue Volunteers, Emergency Management and our Preparedness Advocates, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management's Neighborhood Emergency Teams, Multnomah County Amateur Radio Emergency Services ARES, and Neighborhood Emergency Team members from Sauvie's Island and the Skyline area went door to door with wildfire safety information.

This outreach effort was more than educational for the community at risk; it was designed to improve evacuation tools and capabilities. Over 40 people spent a half day learning about wildfire hazard mitigation, public alerts, and the levels of evacuation so they could share this lifesaving information with the community. In the process, the group was able to test Multnomah County's forms, mapping, and strategies.

Scientists expect that, should we fail to reverse climate change, Oregonians may see more wildfires in the future. One of Multnomah County's primary climate risks is hotter, drier summers with more high-heat days, incidence of drought, and increased wildfire frequency and intensity. The smoke from wildfires worsens air quality and human health, damages and destroys public and private property, and harms wildlife, habitat, and recreation areas. These impacts could drag down our economy, stress our natural resources, and exacerbate inequities facing many Oregonians.

To learn more about Multnomah County's evacuation response planning efforts, please contact from the Office of Emergency Management.